February 18, 2019
From the bottom of the ocean, to the earliest days of the earth, life has managed to not just survive but thrive. We look at several cases which change our understanding of the earliest life on earth and just what that might mean for understanding life on this planet and beyond. From moving life fossilised in mud, to using isotopes to study metabolism and discovering whole new methods of getting food, life continues to astound researchers with its inventiveness.
- Min Sub Sim, Hideaki Ogata, Wolfgang Lubitz, Jess F. Adkins, Alex L. Sessions, Victoria J. Orphan, Shawn E. McGlynn. Role of APS reductase in biogeochemical sulfur isotope fractionation. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07878-4
- Abderrazak El Albani, M. Gabriela Mangano, Luis A. Buatois, Stefan Bengtson, Armelle Riboulleau, Andrey Bekker, Kurt Konhauser, Timothy Lyons, Claire Rollion-Bard, Olabode Bankole, Stellina Gwenaelle Lekele Baghekema, Alain Meunier, Alain Trentesaux, Arnaud Mazurier, Jeremie Aubineau, Claude Laforest, Claude Fontaine, Philippe Recourt, Ernest Chi Fru, Roberto Macchiarelli, Jean Yves Reynaud, François Gauthier-Lafaye, Donald E. Canfield. Organism motility in an oxygenated shallow-marine environment 2.1 billion years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201815721 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1815721116
- Stephanie A. Carr, Sean P. Jungbluth, Emiley A. Eloe-Fadrosh, Ramunas Stepanauskas, Tanja Woyke, Michael S. Rappé, Beth N. Orcutt. Carboxydotrophy potential of uncultivated Hydrothermarchaeota from the subseafloor crustal biosphere. The ISME Journal, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41396-019-0352-9
December 17, 2018
It's been a busy week in space news from Virgin Galactic finally reaching space, to wet asteroids and even a mystery in space. We find out about the latest missions to investigate surprisingly damp asteroids by JAXA and NASA. We recap the swirling controversy around a mysterious hole in the Soyuz spacecraft, plus the latest on Chang'e-4's journey to the dark side of the moon.
- Antczak, J. (n.d.). Virgin Galactic tourism rocket ship reaches space in test. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-virgin-galactic-rocket-ship-space.html
- Jones, A. (2018, December 12). Chang'e-4 spacecraft enters lunar orbit ahead of first-ever far side landing. Retrieved from https://spacenews.com/change-4-spacecraft-enters-lunar-orbit-ahead-of-first-ever-far-side-landing/
- Yamaguchi, M. (n.d.). Photos from Japan space rovers show rocky asteroid surface. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-photos-japan-space-rovers-rocky.html
- Materials provided by University of Arizona. Original written by Erin Morton/OSIRIS-REx and Daniel Stolte. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
November 26, 2018
This week we find out about ancient empires which have changed the face of the planet, changed the climate and left behind trophies of their conquests. From pyramid building termites in Brazil, to large climate changing colonies in Spain and even David vs Goliath battles in Florida with trophies of the dead.
- Stephen J. Martin, Roy R. Funch, Paul R. Hanson, Eun-Hye Yoo. A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds. Current Biology, 2018; 28 (22): R1292 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.061
- David Martín-Perea, Omid Fesharaki, M. Soledad Domingo, Sara Gamboa, Manuel Hernández Fernández. Messor barbarus ants as soil bioturbators: Implications for granulometry, mineralogical composition and fossil remains extraction in Somosaguas site (Madrid basin, Spain). CATENA, 2019; 172: 664 DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2018.09.018
- Adrian A. Smith. Prey specialization and chemical mimicry between Formica archboldi and Odontomachus ants. Insectes Sociaux, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s00040-018-0675-y
October 1, 2018
What is the biggest bird? Why do some species in some locations end up becoming giants? What makes islands like Madagascar so special and why are so many of the species once found there so very large in size? This week we look at island gigantism and island dwarfism across the world with a focus on the giant Elephant birds of Madagascar.
- James P. Hansford, Samuel T. Turvey. Unexpected diversity within the extinct elephant birds (Aves: Aepyornithidae) and a new identity for the world's largest bird. Royal Society Open Science, 2018; 5 (9): 181295 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181295
- James Hansford, Patricia C. Wright, Armand Rasoamiaramanana, Ventura R. Pérez, Laurie R. Godfrey, David Errickson, Tim Thompson, Samuel T. Turvey. Early Holocene human presence in Madagascar evidenced by exploitation of avian megafauna. Science Advances, 2018; 4 (9): eaat6925 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6925
July 30, 2018
We are often tantalized by the prospect of water on Mars, but thanks to a Teenage Satellite we have found lakes of water on Mars, just beneath the surface. Plus we find out where all that martian dust comes from and check in on everyone's favourite Comet, 67-p.
- R. Orosei, S. E. Lauro, E. Pettinelli, A. Cicchetti, M. Coradini, B. Cosciotti, F. Di Paolo, E. Flamini, E. Mattei, M. Pajola, F. Soldovieri, M. Cartacci, F. Cassenti, A. Frigeri, S. Giuppi, R. Martufi, A. Masdea, G. Mitri, C. Nenna, R. Noschese, M. Restano, R. Seu. Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars. Science, 2018; eaar7268 DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7268
- Horner, J. (2018, July 26). Discovered: A huge liquid water lake beneath the southern pole of Mars. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/discovered-a-huge-liquid-water-lake-beneath-the-southern-pole-of-mars-100523
- Lujendra Ojha, Kevin Lewis, Suniti Karunatillake, Mariek Schmidt. The Medusae Fossae Formation as the single largest source of dust on Mars. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05291-5
- K. L. Heritier, K. Altwegg, J.-J. Berthelier, A. Beth, C. M. Carr, J. De Keyser, A. I. Eriksson, S. A. Fuselier, M. Galand, T. I. Gombosi, P. Henri, F. L. Johansson, H. Nilsson, M. Rubin, C. Simon Wedlund, M. G. G. T. Taylor, E Vigren. On the origin of molecular oxygen in cometary comae. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04972-5
July 16, 2018
Dust storms can be hazardous, especially when they engulf an entire planet like on Mars. They can also carry pollution across national borders and contaminate wide areas. But Dust Storms may also hold the secret for how life can spread across vast deserts. This week we look at dust storms of this world and out of this world.
- Authors: J. A. Rivas Jr., J. E. Mohl, R. S. Van Pelt, M.‐Y. Leung, R. L. Wallace, T. E. Gill, E. J. Walsh. Evidence for regional aeolian transport of freshwater micrometazoans in arid regions. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/lol2.10072
- Tuyet Nam Thi Nguyen, Kuen-Sik Jung, Ji Min Son, Hye-Ok Kwon, Sung-Deuk Choi. Seasonal variation, phase distribution, and source identification of atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at a semi-rural site in Ulsan, South Korea. Environmental Pollution, 2018; 236: 529 DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.01.080
- Penn State. (2018, June 28). Mars dust storm may lead to new weather discoveries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180628124412.htm
- NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2018, June 20). Martian dust storm grows global: Curiosity captures photos of thickening haze. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 13, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180620170956.htm
July 2, 2018
This week we look into three stories about how oceans tie our planet together. Our ecosystems are often linked in unusual ways that are not immediately obvious. Ocean currents can tie ecosystems across the world together, impacting migratory species, local environments and ecosystems. Sometimes these impacts are short term, other times they play out over years, decades and centuries.
- Carl J. Reddin, Ádám T. Kocsis, Wolfgang Kiessling. Marine invertebrate migrations trace climate change over 450 million years. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/geb.12732
- Hector M. Guzman, Catalina G. Gomez, Alex Hearn, Scott A. Eckert. Longest recorded trans-Pacific migration of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus). Marine Biodiversity Records, 2018; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s41200-018-0143-4
- Jocelyn Champagnon, Jean-Dominique Lebreton, Hugh Drummond, David J. Anderson. Pacific Decadal and El Niño oscillations shape survival of a seabird. Ecology, 2018; 99 (5): 1063 DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2179
June 25, 2018
Astronomy can be quite beautiful at times. From nano-diamonds giving the galaxy a shimmering glow, to stardust leftover from the creation of the solar system hitching a ride on a coment. We also find out about new ways to hunt for exoplanets by erasing stars with filters.
- Hope A. Ishii, John P. Bradley, Hans A. Bechtel, Donald E. Brownlee, Karen C. Bustillo, James Ciston, Jeffrey N. Cuzzi, Christine Floss, David J. Joswiak. Multiple generations of grain aggregation in different environments preceded solar system body formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201720167 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720167115
- J. S. Greaves, A. M. M. Scaife, D. T. Frayer, D. A. Green, B. S. Mason, A. M. S. Smith. Anomalous microwave emission from spinning nanodiamonds around stars. Nature Astronomy, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0495-z
- H.J. Hoeijmakers, H. Schwarz, I.A.G. Snellen, R.J. de Kok, M. Bonnefoy, G. Chauvin, A.M. Lagrange, J.H. Girard. Medium-resolution integral-field spectroscopy for high-contrast exoplanet imaging: Molecule maps of the beta Pictoris system with SINFONI. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2018; DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201832902
- Image Credit: S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF
May 27, 2018
Gamma rays are a mainstay of science fiction, but hunting for these elusive events is a lot easier with the right tools. We find out about two ingenious ways to hunt for gamma rays including flying into a cyclone, using satellites and even a telescope the size of New York.
- G. S. Bowers, D. M. Smith, N. A. Kelley, G. F. Martinez-McKinney, S. A. Cummer, J. R. Dwyer, S. Heckman, R. H. Holzworth, F. Marks, P. Reasor, J. Gamache, J. Dunion, T. Richards, H. K. Rassoul. A Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flash inside the Eyewall of Hurricane Patricia. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027771
- R. U. Abbasi, T. Abu-Zayyad, E. Barcikowski, J. W. Belz, D. R. Bergman, S. A. Blake, M. Byrne, et al. Gamma-ray Showers Observed at Ground Level in Coincidence With Downward Lightning Leaders. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2018; DOI: 10.1029/2017JD027931
May 7, 2018
With Kilauea erupting, we look at the science of volcanoes and how we can keep better tabs on these rumbling giants of geology. From infra-sound monitoring, to tracking disappearing lava lakes.
April 9, 2018
How do animals from bacteria to birds manage to use the Earth's magetnic field to navigate? Do we know how or why? What potential mechanisms are out there and how does quantum mechanics get involved?